Sunday, August 26, 2007

Welcome to China

So, here we are, standing in the lobby of the "Beijing Far East International Youth Hostel", happy to be able to log into blogger and write this message. Even though we're not able to access the blog itself. (Update: It is possible, just do a quick search for "anonymizer" on Google;-)

We had a good ride from Munich, with very nice flight-attendants and good food on both legs of our journey. And now I think it's safe to say that we also had a very good start into Beijing. At least as soon as we got into our cab after having to wait in line for 45min while watching endless loops of ads for the Olympics (which are really omnipresent around here) and terrible Chinese TV-shows. So, first lesson learned: next time opt for the pick-up service from the hostel which would have cost us RMB150 (instead of the RMB120 we paid for the regular cab) but would have saved us quite some time and energy. And if you decide to go for the regular cab then at least don't be so stupid as to not use a trolley for you backpack, because after 22h on planes it's quite pain in the rear to stand around with 20kg on your back.

Anyway, once we got into the cab things started to look up. Especially when the driver, after thinking hard for 15min, muttered the words "Welcome to China" with a big friendly smile on his face.

The hotel is situated in the immensely charming Hutong area, which is still (maybe as still in not very long from now...) reflecting the traditional Chinese way of housing. We walked around a bit before settling into a small restaurant on the street for some nice food and a good Chinese beer! Afterwards we decided to look for Tian'anmen square (for more details see Patrick's comment below), we weren't quite sure which direction to walk once we left "our" street. Maybe another note about the immediate neighbourhood: it's quite touristy in a "Lonely Planet / backpacker / individual" kind of way, with lots of small shops, travel agents and restaurants with English menus. Plus there's one bar aka "tourist trap" which is easily distinguishable by being the only place with loud music playing.

One random amusing observation was made at the immigration counter on the airport as you can evaluate the officer's performance on a smiley-scale from very good to very bad. We don't know what happens when you press the "unhappy button" - at least in my mind the officer then gets an electric shock or something. Now how about installing such a device at the OBB-counters, in every Bezirksamt and Magistrat and offer this as an option on a telephone hotline. "Please press a number from 1 to 9 to evaluate the support you've received." #9 BUZZZ...

Well, 'nuff said for today, it's time to grab some sleep!

Patrick's free of sense corner:
After finding heavenly peace by consuming a cheap Costa-Rican cigar from Dubai on the square of heavenly peace under the watchful eyes of chinese authorities and contributing to both the amusement and photographical motives of chinese tourists and pedestrians we have truly and finally arrived in this wonderful city. Viva!
P.S.: Christoph is a fucking hacker:-)

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